Photo: Geisel Funeral Home
I’m not in the habit of reading obituaries, and I pretty much NEVER discuss death notices with my children. But when I saw several of my friends share the obituary of a young girl on Facebook last night, my interest was piqued. Did the child of a mutual acquaintance or friend-of-a-friend pass away and I had not heard about it?
No, I found out when I clicked to read. All of my friends were sharing the obituary of a complete and total stranger. In fact, this young girl’s obituary is going viral, for a very powerful reason. Because in 15-year-old Sadie L. Riggs’ obituary, her family took a strong stand to attempt to save other lives—and it’s one we need to share with our own children.
Sadie, who you can tell from her obituary was dearly loved, committed suicide. And her family is feeling this devastating loss.
The obituary starts with a description of Sadie’s short life:
Miss Sadie L. Riggs, 15, of Bedford, took her own life on Monday, June 19th, 2017.
Sadie was born in Bedford on December 4, 2001. She is survived by her father, Eric Riggs and step mother Alicia Smith of Bedford and her biological mother, Beverly (Dodson) Riggs of Hopewell and by her motherly aunt, Sarah Smith, with whom she resided.
Sadie was a member of the Solid Rock Christian Fellowship Church in Bedford. She played softball and loved reading, drawing and music. Sadie was a sweet and loving girl and she will be greatly missed.
And then, it gets REALLY real. Her loved ones hold nothing back as they explain the reason Sadie took her own life:
In an effort to debunk the rumors about Sadie’s death we would like to share this information. Yes, Sadie took her own life, she hung herself. It is hard to fathom that someone so young could be so troubled. Sadie was seeking help, she was in counselling and taking medication, but it was all too much for such a young soul to live with. If you take a minute and look at Sadie’s family dynamics you will see that a large percent of the people in her life were not not related to her by blood but she was sent to us by God who knew this child needed a family. Sadie had a tough life and until a recent incident at school she handled everything life served her. For a young lady so excited about going to the High School things sure went terribly wrong for her. For the bullies involved, please know you were effective in making her feel worthless. That is all between you and God now, but please know that it is not to late to change your ways. Sadie’s death has taken us to dark places, we will stick together and protect one another as we try to make sense of this tragic loss. To all the bullies out there, I just want you to know that as much as we despise your actions never, ever do we wish for you to feel the paralyzing pain that engulfs our bodies, a pain so severe that it makes the simple act of breathing difficult or the guilt that leaves us wondering what we could have done differently-or that struggle to remember the last words we spoke…Our hearts are beyond broken. Sadie, it was a privilege to have you in our lives and we will always love you. May you find peace in the arms of God and may we all be kind to one another.
In lieu of flowers, the family of Sadie ask that you be kind to one another.
Oh, moms and dads. My heart broke in two when I read this line: For the bullies involved, please know you were effective in making her feel worthless.
We have to teach our kids that their words and actions MATTER. That there’s no such thing as “harmless” bullying, and that extending love and kindness instead of rejection and ridicule can make ALL the difference for a soul in need of it.
And empathy, parents, empathy. We HAVE to instill in our kids the ability to ask themselves “What would if I feel like if someone said or did that to me?”
As Sadie’s obituary proves, how we teach our kids to treat (or not treat) others can be the difference between life and death.
Let’s honor Sadie’s family’s wishes and BE KIND.
I pray you rest in Jesus’ arms, Sadie. And I’m praying so hard for your sweet family.